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May 13, 2019

Life and Death in Norway and the United States

Author Affiliations
  • 1Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2019;321(19):1877-1879. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.4891

Life expectancy is lower in the United States than in other high-income countries. Among the 36 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, average life expectancy at birth exceeds life expectancy in the United States by 1.7 years.1

Do all residents of other countries live longer than individuals in the United States, or is that only true for particular groups? The answer to this question is important and could have major policy implications. Life expectancy might be expected to be longer for individuals with low and middle incomes living in countries with universal insurance coverage and a more equal income distribution than in the United States. But at the top of the income distribution, do the constraints of universal health care coverage mean that people with high socioeconomic status fare better in the United States, or are the shortcomings of US health care present even at the uppermost reaches of social status?